SUBMISSION TO THE INQUIRY INTO THE FOREIGN INFLUENCE TRANSPARENCY SCHEME BILL 2017
Universities Australia welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security inquiry into the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017. Universities Australia is the peak body for Australia’s 39 comprehensive universities, which educate more than a million students and undertake research to add to the stock of advanced knowledge, and has been valued at more than $160 billion. Universities are mindful of the need to support an appropriate legislative framework to maintain national security. As part of their daily business, universities already comply with a vast array of regulatory instruments, often numbering into the hundreds, including a range of legislation supporting national security, including autonomous sanctions regimes and the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 (which is designed to ensure that sensitive Australian technology is not inappropriately provided to outside nations). However, Universities Australia is concerned that the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017 has the potential to stifle innovation and valuable academic research, as well as compromising the ability of Australia’s universities to develop a philanthropic culture in Australia.